Health Wellness

The Difference Between Pilates, Barre and Yoga – Everything You Need to Know

Confused about the difference between Pilates, Barre and Yoga and not sure which one is right for you? Let’s find out!

By Laura Bullock, the founder of Mode Pilates

There are so many amazing workouts that are designed to lengthen, strengthen and tone the body. Pilates, Barre and Yoga are three that are especially popular with those who don’t necessarily want to lift heavy weights or do a HIIT class, but still want to see some serious results.

All of these practices have many benefits, but they are all very different. Here are a few things to know about each class.


Founded by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s, Pilates was originally developed with the purpose of rehabilitation with the first clients being solders returning from war and dancers such as Martha Graham and George Balanchine who needed to strengthen their joints and heal their many aches and pains. In the past it has been hugely popular with people who are recovering from injury including postpartum women who need to re-develop their core strength and pelvic floor. And more recently, in part due to the rise in social media, is now one of the most talked about workouts out there.

There are many ways to perform Pilates, from using a reformer bed, to doing mat pilates with a few props such as a Pilates ball, hand weights and the famous Pilates circle. My studio Mode uses the new and super versatile Bala props which I will go into later. The fundamentals of the training style are all about control and perfect posture. While you will occasionally have some faster reps to get your heart rate up, the premise of Pilates is to get into your deep muscles, improve your strength, alignment and posture. Getting an exercise right is often far more important than how many reps you do.

A Pilates class is generally well balanced and while each class may have a focus, such as core, arms or legs, it will work the whole body, especially the postural muscles to ensure clients leave feeling “balanced”. The exercises themselves will range from holding a pose, such as a plank and doing various variations of a plank, to deep, precise reps such as lunges, pulses or moves that require balance, coordination and concentration.


Barre is a fast, fun workout that really tones the body. The workout itself is inspired by the exercises that Ballet dancers do at the “barre” which is where they do exercises to strengthen the specific muscles that they need to carry them through a performance. It also often incorporates some standing Pilates moves and cardio HIIT bursts as well and I would expect a lot of pulses in most barre classes so your muscles really feel the burn. 

There are many different styles of barre class depending on where you go. Some infuse a bit of yoga into them, others are more dance, Pilates and/or cardio. 

The style that we teach at my studio Mode is all about low-impact, high-energy workouts that bring the burn and the feel-good vibes. Unlike most barre and Pilates classes, we have steered clear of typical props, and instead use Bala props such as the Bala beam, power ring, hand and wrist weights to create fresh, modern and creative flows on the reformer and mat. These props also require that our clients utilise their stability muscles a bit more which is why we loved them. 

We also have carefully curated music to set the pace, guide the flow and elevate the energy. The way we move is equally intuitive and intentional; each class is designed to set both our bodies and our souls on fire.


Yoga is a class that can both be used for exercise and toning, stretching and/ or for the mind. For example, a Vinyasa class or a flow class will often see you moving from pose to pose quite quickly for the most part so you really get your sweat on and your core will be on fire. A yin class however is more about holding a pose for a long time and breathing into it. While it is not necessarily comfortable, especially if you are stiff in some of the targeted muscles, it is more about the breath, reducing inflammation and cortisol in the body and controlling the mind.

Yoga is great to include in any routine, especially if you do a lot of barre or strength training as the flowing nature of the workout can help flush out the sore muscles that you will often get after a class.

Each of these practices has its own beautiful place in the world of movement. We believe in incorporating a balance of styles and class tempos into your week to keep things exciting and have you feeling energized every time you leave the studio.

Want more Pilates inspiration? Click here!

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